IQ by Joe Ide
Boyd parked his truck across the street from the school and waited for the bell to ring. It was ninety-plus degrees outside, the air in the cab as still and stifling as a closed tomb. Boyd's fishing cap was dark with sweat; streams of it trickling down his face, getting in his eyes, and making his sunburn sting.
IQ is the first in Joe Ide's series featuring a very modern day 'Sherlock', and it has won multiple awards in the crime fiction community. This was the November selection for our mystery book group. Though the language is a bit rough, it fits with the setting and the characters, and it was probably more apparent because I listened to this one on audio, ably narrated by Sullivan Jones. There are rappers, hit men, attack dogs, and a very urban set of characters. There is also Isaiah Quintabe. He dropped out of high school and the honors program, where he excelled, after his older brother, Marcus, was killed in a hit-and-run. Marcus wanted Isaiah to use his gifts to help people, to give back to the community. And after some tough times surviving when he's left on his own, that's what Isaiah (IQ) tries to do.
I liked this book and can see why it's been praised by many in the mystery world. It's different and unique. As I said, some salty language and some violent situations, but the characters are compelling. Isaiah's backstory is interspersed with his current jobs. The reader comes to know how IQ came to be and how Isaiah didn't always make the best decisions as he tried to survive and deal with his massive grief. However, he has learned from his mistakes and now attempts to make his late brother proud. I'll be curious to find out how it came across to the rest of the mystery group. And I'm planning on reading the other two books in the series - Righteous and Wrecked (which was just published). I think if you're a fan of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series, you might like this one.
**Update - Since I wrote this review, I've also listened to the second book in the IQ series, Righteous, narrated by the same person. I liked it mostly. In it, Isaiah discovers a lot more about his brother's death, investigates in Las Vegas, and get caught up in a gang war. Lots of people die. Isaiah and his colleagues definitely don't follow the law very closely. I can see why the series is well-liked, but it reminds me of several popular TV series that have main characters that are anti-heroes. I'll take a break from these books for now and perhaps come back to the third book after a few months.
***Second Update - We had the discussion of IQ earlier this week in the mystery group. Most liked it, some did not, some didn't finish it. We talked about the Sherlock influence and also mentioned that even though the language was 'rough', it fit the setting. There were a lot of great points discussed. I'd say it was a success - from my viewpoint as the 'book selector' anyway.
East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch.
They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay.
This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.